PARIS,— Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Emmanuel Macron’s warning that NATO was dying reflects a “sick and shallow” understanding, telling the French president “you should check whether you are brain dead”.
The comments drew a swift rebuke from the French foreign ministry, which summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Paris to protest over what a French presidential adviser called “insults”.
Erdogan was speaking days ahead of a summit of the military alliance, which Macron has said is experiencing “brain death” because of U.S.
unpredictability under President Donald Trump and strained ties with Turkey.
The Turkish and French presidents, who have traded criticism over Ankara’s cross-border offensive in northeast Syria, will be among NATO leaders meeting at a summit of the transatlantic alliance in Britain on Dec.
“I’m addressing Mr Macron from Turkey and I will say it at NATO: You should check whether you are brain dead first,” Erdogan said.
Macron said in an interview three weeks ago there was a lack of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, on the other.
He has also decried NATO’s inability to react to what he called Turkey’s “crazy” offensive into northern Syria.
On Friday, French officials said they expected substantial clarifications from Erdogan rather than a war of words.
“Let’s be clear, these are not statements, they are insults,” a presidential adviser said.
“The president says things clearly.
It’s up to Turkey to provide the answers that we and many allies expect.”
Macron’s adviser said that beyond the issue of Turkey’s offensive in Syrian Kurdistan – the Kurdish region in northern Syria-, its refusal to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltic republics and Poland was unacceptable.
“Turkey can’t take the defense plans of Poland and the Baltic countries hostage,” the adviser said.
Turkey is refusing to back a NATO defense plan for the three Baltic states and Poland unless it secures more political support from its allies for its fight against Kurdish YPG forces in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
Ankara views the YPG as terrorists with links to militant Kurdish separatists in Turkish Kurdistan (Bakur) in southeast Turkey.
Macron’s remarks on NATO drew strong reaction from France’s neighbors who say Europe still has to rely heavily on the U.S.-led alliance for its defense.
Macron said on Thursday his remarks had been a useful wake-up call and that he would not apologize for saying them.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S.
has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.
11,000 Kurdish male and female fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate the Islamic State “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq.
Syria’s Kurds have established a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Syria during the country’s eight-year war.
In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013.
On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.
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